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2016-2017 FELLOWS

We are a diverse community of educators in northwestern Washington who contribute to our campuses and communities in multiple ways--through teaching, research, leading community organizations, working through local government, and volunteering. We are also friends, neighbors, parents, and more.


We are life-long learners seeking to improve our campus-community collaborations through shared dialogue, cooperation, and reflection. We know we need each other, and the support of the broader community, to do our best work.

I came to WWU to teach about mountain science and sustainable communities because this is one of the best places for combining those passions. I collect snow on mountain peaks and examine climate change impacts on vegetation as a way of knowledgeably working with local mountain communities - whether they are in Washington, Peru, Nepal or anywhere! - in creating more resilient, sustainable futures through biodiversity conservation, watershed protection, local food production, and other permaculture applications. I am incredibly excited about the potential for working in the Bellingham community!


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Pine and Cedar Lake Loop - it feels like wilderness and yet is a short bike ride from campus or maybe I should mention Cloud Mountain Farms because we’re always buying new fruit trees for our food forest

John All

Environmental Sciences WWU


I am an assistant professor in the Modern and Classical Languages department since September 2012. My research and teaching interests are guided by my will to strengthen the connections between the written word and oral traditions linked to different textual practices and cultural products. Since my scholarship aims to reframe the concept of intertextuality, I incorporate film, music and visual art into my teaching and encourage students to understand these textualities as elements of a complex matrix of historical, social, and economic relations in which they themselves are immersed.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Artist Point

Blanca Aranda

Modern and Classical Languages WWU


I am the First Year Engagement Coordinator with the Center for Service Learning at Western Washington University. This exciting new role entails working collaboratively on and beyond campus to build programming that supports thoughtful, intentional, and impactful involvement of first year students in their broader communities. Originally from the Midwest, I’ve lived on the West Coast for more than a decade while pursuing a PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of British Columbia, writing my dissertation on Orcas Island, and completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Collaborative Research for an Equitable California in Santa Cruz. I’m delighted to be back in the Pacific Northwest and I look forward to thinking together with other fellows about how to be responsible and engaged citizens of the Coast Salish territories, the City of Bellingham, Whatcom County, the Salish Sea, and the world.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: So so many, including the lagoon at Cascade Lake on Orcas Island and the top of the snowshoeing trail on Hollyburn Mountain in Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains.

Natalie Baloy

Center for Service-Learning WWU


I teach physics and astronomy as well as work half-time as the STEM Inclusion and Outreach Specialist (STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). I am a passionate supporter of inclusion for any student who has felt excluded or out of place and committed to helping these students succeed in STEM. I am also the host of the radio show & podcast Spark Science, a talk show which strives to make science more accessible and approachable.

A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Bellingham Bay and Chuckanut. I remember reading Tolkien in the summer and looking out towards the green hills and mountains of Whatcom County. It felt like I was in the stories.

Regina Barber DeGraaff

Physics & Astronomy WWU


My research and teaching focus on public memory, community activism, gender, and social justice. I teach Canadian History at Western Washington University, including courses on the history of commemoration, labour, the law, and Canadian-American relations. My current research explores commemoration, cultural policy, and identity in Nova Scotia’s communities during Canada’s 1967 centennial celebrations. In particular, I examine how centennial projects - such as museums, cultural institutions, and community centres - were designed to reimagine and renew public space in the postwar era.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Stanley Park in Vancouver

Meaghan Beaton

History WWU


I am the Communications Director for the City of Bellingham, working in the Mayor's office. In my previous life, I was a journalist, editor, photographer and graphic designer for 15 years before transitioning to community engagement, political involvement and public relations. I have a bachelors in journalism from Western Washington University and a Masters in communication and leadership studies from Gonzaga University. I also taught as an adjunct faculty member in Western's journalism department for two-and-a-half years before coming to the City of Bellingham. I'm excited about expanding the partnership between our institutions of higher learning and the City of Bellingham.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: One of my favorite places in Whatcom County is the little two-acre farm that I own with friends south of Acme where I compete with the slugs and deer for fresh veggies for my family.

Vanessa Blackburn

Mayor's Office, City of Bellingham


As an adjunct professor in Western’s journalism department, my challenge is how best to teach what I know from a 25-year career as a daily newspaper journalist. I continue to occasionally write for various outlets to stay current in the field as well as pass along real-world reporting experience to students. My community involvement includes work as a college advisor and mentor, helping guide high school students in their college searches. I grew up in northern New York and received a BA degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1984. My goal is to someday complete a research project examining the lives and work of women sports journalists in the 1970s and their pioneering role in a male-dominated industry.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: The high bluff overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca at Fort Ebey State Park.

Meri-Jo Borzilleri

Journalism WWU


I research the connections between media and culture in multiple contexts. My work focuses on framing, and particularly media coverage of Islam and Muslims. I have taught at Michigan State University, the Sorbonne University, and Grand Valley State University. My research has been published in journals such as Public Understanding of Science, International Communication Gazette, and Journalism & Mass Communication Educator. I have written several books, including biographies of The Ramones, The Clash, and Judas Priest. I co-edited the anthology CREEM: America’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll Magazine. I am also a musician who releases music with the group Voluptuous Panic.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: I love the Pickford Film Center and the way it allows us to see great artistic films normally not accessible in a city as small as Bellingham. Also, they show cheesy vintage sci-fi films once a month!

Brian Bowe

Journalism WWU


In 2015 I became the Visual Communications Program Coordinator at Whatcom Community College. I taught design at both Western Washington University and WCC for 17 years prior to 2015, as well as 11 years in Texas prior to 1997. In Texas, I became interested in service learning by having my students work on projects with area non-profit organizations. I am inspired by AIGA, design’s professional organization, and their concept of Design for Good. Locally WCC design students have worked with several organizations to improve their visual communications.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: I love all 22 miles of the Cascade River Road with old growth trees, Johannesburg Mountain, and other peaks.

Jeanne Broussard

Visual & Performing Arts WCC


I am the Campus Community Coalition and New Student Program Initiatives Coordinator at Western Washington University. My work focuses on building community linkages and increasing communication between students and the greater Bellingham community. Because of my background in municipal planning, I would like to focus on getting students involved in local government at the neighborhood level so that they can get to know their neighbors and feel empowered in shaping the future of this community.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: How can I even choose?! So many beautiful places…. Ok how about Park Butte lookout!

Julia Burns

Community Coalition and

New Student Program Initiatives Coordinator WWU


I am an Assistant Professor of Management Information Systems in the College of Business & Economics at WWU. I joined Western in 2015. My overall goal in my teaching is to emphasize and illustrate how technology can influence individuals, organizations, and societies, and to equip students with a variety of practical social and technological skills. My recent research focuses on technology-induced stress and its impacts on individuals and businesses.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Galbraith Mountain

Christopher Califf

Decision Sciences WWU


I am a second year instructor at Western’s History Department. In my research, I examine how the intersection of various historical processes, including immigration, war, Pan-Americanism and hemisphere security, affected Latin American relations with the United States during the FDR era. I also investigate how transnational non-state actors, such as ethnic organizations, shaped inter-American politics. Likewise, my teaching interests include Latin America and the World, U.S.-Latin American Relations, and Immigration and Ethnicity in the Americas. My experience as an immigrant to the United States has always informed my personal and professional life. In a similar fashion, I hope that my experiences at Western continue to shape my teaching and research interests.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: One of my favorite activities in town is to explore with my kids the various parks and nooks by the Interurban trail.

Pedro Cameselle-Pesce

History WWU


Modern life is awash with information. As an adjunct teaching librarian at the Whatcom Community College Library and a full-time public services librarian at the Bellingham Public Library, I’m interested in information seeking patterns and the barriers that people experience during the sense-making process. Accessibility to existing resources is of special interest. I look forward to networking with other educators, identifying barriers to information access in our community, and then collaboratively building practical solutions that mitigate those barriers.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: So many places come to mind, but as a bike commuter I especially appreciate the numerous trail options that we have within the city limits of Bellingham.

Suzanne Carlson-Prandini

Bellingham Public Library

WCC Library


I am a clinical psychologist and I teach classes on mental illness and psychological science. I am passionate about increasing mental health literacy and promoting critical research consumption through my teaching. My clinical focus is on eating and weight disorders and my research explores interventions to promote positive body image, reduce the risk for eating disorder development, and improve identification of early eating disorder symptoms. I am committed to exploring ways to partner with communities to deliver evidence-based programs that are tailored to specific community needs.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: North Lake Whatcom trail - I love this peaceful trail and the view of the lake from the north side.

Anna Ciao

Psychology WWU


Teaching at WCC has given me the opportunity to develop curricula that strives to better prepare students for their roles as CIS/CS professionals. The Fellows program will be my attempt to become more involved in community applications of my expertise.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Edmonds waterfront

Brody Coleman

Technology WCC


I am a senior instructor in the Biology Department and have been teaching here for 13 years. My research interests center around how students learn and think about science and how to optimize classrooms and instruction to support learning. Curriculum design is of particular interest to me. One project I am working on is the development of biology labs that allow students to participate in authentic research that serves the community. My personal service activities have focused on investigating general education reform at WWU and have included involvement in the 2014 Western Study of Undergraduate Education and the 2015-2016 General Education Task force.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Desolation Sound

Georgianne Connell

Biology WWU


I’m currently the tenure track Economics Instructor at Whatcom Community College. I’m gradually learning more about the Bellingham and Whatcom County Community. I’ve spent the last 25 or so years teaching Economics, Math, and a few other subjects at the college level in the USA, Canada, and the UAE. I’m always trying to find the balance between the knowledge base required for the subject and relevance to the community. I’m learning more about music all the time. I took up skateboarding recently and I’m always looking for opportunities to help the local skate scene.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: The many coastal drives and views over the San Juan and Gulf Islands.

Ron Correll

Economics WCC


I am a tenured professor in the Theatre and Dance Department, where I have served as the Theatre Education and Outreach Director for the past 15 years. My special interests are in Theatre for Social Change and Applied Theatre as interpreted for the K-12 classroom and youth communities beyond those boundaries. My students and I have worked extensively in Whatcom County, bringing transformative performing arts techniques and pedagogies to area schools as well as community groups and businesses.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Moran State Park on Orcas Island

Deb Currier

Theater WWU


My guiding purpose is social justice through education and community. This come together in my work as Executive Director on Communities in Schools of Whatcom a school based non profit that works to connect youth to resources and opportunities, empowering them to succeed in school and in life. Our efforts are felt in the Meridian, Bellingham Ferndale and Mount Vernon School Districts. I have a duel masters from the University of Washington in Public Health and Public Administration and my bachelors from Western in Cell Biology. I am a proud RPCV and served with the Peace Corps in Armenia from 2010-2012 as a Community Development and Health Specialist. My free time is spent reading, walking my dog or doing yoga but really my favorite thing is taking naps.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Whatcom Falls Park and Lake Padden

Kathryn DeFillipo

Communities in Schools

of Whatcom


My research is in the field of energy economics, mostly on issues surrounding wind generation. More recently I have begun other work related to energy efficiency. Courses I teach include ‘Economics of Alternative Energy’ and ‘Energy Economics’.


A place I love in Whatcom County: Artist Point

Reid Dorsey-Palmateer


Institute for Energy Studies WWU


I’m fascinated by how people learn and I’m happiest when I’m learning something new myself. Over the time I’ve taught Spanish at Western, I’ve looked more and more for ways to teach and learn beyond the classroom. In addition to teaching Spanish—including developing new courses such as FIG, a Viking Launch course, and Spanish for Healthcare Professions—I’ve been the curriculum coordinator for the Employee Language Program since it began in winter 2013. Over the past year, my intermediate language students and I have collaborated with the Sterling Meadows housing community on service learning projects focused on bilingual programming.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: I love all the overlooked and out-of-the-way places, such as logging roads in the process of regenerating themselves. Visiting these places and seeing native plants and animals surviving—or better yet, in the process of returning—feels like a window into a special world.

Kristen Drickey

Modern & Classical Languages WWU

I am involved in a wide variety of projects, but my passion lies in ecological design, most specifically in regard to architecture and urban planning. I am Founder and CEO of the Arcology Institute and we are currently working on constructing a 5-story building in Downtown Bellingham that is projected to be the world’s most sustainable mixed-use building. In addition to Arcology Institute, I am an advisor to several startup companies and I also serve on several nonprofit boards. My professional interests typically center around topics such as sustainability, the environment, transportation, health, and technology.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: My community at Bellingham Cohousing

Rhys Faler

Arcology Institute


I have a passion for cross sector engagement, especially with health, education and families. I facilitate a group called Parents Matter, which is a cross sector alliance of community organizations and parents in promoting education and healthy youth opportunites.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Lummi Island

Kate Foster

Bellingham SD/Parents Matter


I am an associate professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. My interests are in rehabilitation of adolescents and adults with acquired brain injury. My research has focused on sport concussion and cognitive rehabilitation. I am also interested in learning about the human experience of living with brain injury through a phenomenological approach. In my classes, I make an effort to develop in my students a sense of empathy for the types of individuals with who they will forge clinical relationships.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: The Chuckanuts

Michael Fraas

Communication Sciences & Disorders WWU


I am the executive director of the Whatcom Literacy Council, a local nonprofit that offers free tutoring and small group classes to adults who wish to improve their literacy skills. I have been active in the nonprofit community for some time, focusing on peer education and efforts to build capacity. I am currently working with the Whatcom Community Foundation to establish a program that introduces professionals to board service, and then matches them with nonprofits who are recruiting people for their boards of directors.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Lummi Island

Katherine Freimund

Whatcom Literacy Council


I am the Emergency Manager City of Bellingham. I am still relatively new to the community by way of Wisconsin and am engaging slowly but surely. I currently sit on the Whatcom Young Professionals Council and the Northwest Red Cross Chapter Board.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: For me getting out on the water and traversing our backyard, the San Juan Islands, is unlike anything I've seen in my traveling this great country.

Paul Gazdik

Emergency Management, City of Bellingham


I am an applied anthropologist and have worked in the human services field in Whatcom County since 2009. I completed my MA in Cultural Anthropology at WWU in 2012. My thesis research addressed how Maya women in Guatemala managed their families during migration induced separation from a male partner. My current interests continue to revolve around how children and families function in the face of parent-child separation and reunification with a focus on indigenous communities and historical trauma. Currently, I work in parent training and education at Lydia Place and at Lummi Nation.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: Victoria B.C.

Katie Goger

Lummi Nation Behavioral Health/Lydia Place


Teaching in the Graduate Adult and Higher Education Program at WWU provides me with a vast array of opportunities to engage and help others engage in community. My thesis included a study of service-learning and transformative learning. I am looking for ways to help people ‘wake up’ to their own power and the need for community engagement in issues of transition. I use to be involved in children and women’s issues, but without a human compatible planet we’re not going to have a change at addressing anything else. I am interested in learning from indigenous communities.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: I so love this area I get to call home, Cascadia. Today I think I will say I love the Blaine Marine Park, as I get to visit it as much as I like. From there I can see Canada, where I am from. The sunsets over the ocean are spectacular and there are so many birds.

Gail Goulet

Adult and Higher Education WWU


I am the Executive Director at Our TreeHouse, a nonprofit that provides resources and support to children, teens, and families who are grieving a significant death. We are the only organization that provides grief support to children in Whatcom County. I am also a Hospice volunteer. I teach leadership and self-exploration workshops at WCC’s Continuing Education. I am a writer of personal essay. I have essays published in various anthologies as well as my memoir which was published two years ago.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: My happy place besides at home hanging out with my husband and two teenagers? Artist’s Point.

Colleen Haggerty

Our TreeHouse


I have been building and teaching in the Chinese programs at Wade King elementary school and Whatcom Community College. My professional interests are developing sustainable Chinese language programs in our community, Chinese curriculum design for all levels and age groups, Chinese language teaching pedagogy for all levels and age groups, comparative language teaching and learning for Chinese and other languages.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: My favorite places in the area are Boulevard Park, Lake Padden and Winchester Mountain.

Wendy Hagin

World Languages WCC/Wade King Elementary School


My commitment to building partnerships between adult learners and their community is a common thread throughout my educational and professional experience. I continue to facilitate this dynamic relationship in my current role as a staff member at the WWU Center for Service-Learning. This year I am also serving as the Campaign Leader for the Washington State Combined Fund Drive employee giving program. The Combined Fund Drive (CFD) strengthens and supports community organizations by offering workplace giving options and tracking volunteer hours for faculty and staff at WWU. I believe in the value of investing in our communities and I enjoy living in this beautiful corner of the world.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: I love Camano Island. There is always an adventure waiting for me on that island.

Laurel Hammond

Center for Service-Learning WWU


I have made my career helping to promote and provide opportunities for artists. I received my B. A. in Art History from the University of Oregon, then Masters Certificates in Arts Management from the University of Massachusetts, and the Sotheby’s American Arts Course. I have enjoyed working the retail gallery side of the arts and more recently I have been busy in non-profit arts administration. I have served on boards such as the Washington State Arts Alliance, Bellingham Tourism Commission, and Idaho Commission on the Arts.

A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: Camano Island State Park

Kelly Hart

Allied Arts


My research focuses on the habitat and ecology of Pacific salmon and other freshwater fishes. Some of my current projects involve collaboration with government and tribal agencies and community groups to assess the effectiveness of salmon habitat restoration efforts.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: A swimming hole in the South Fork Nooksack River. I am not at liberty to disclose its location.

James Helfield

Environmental Sciences WWU


My professional and personal identities are increasingly intertwined. I am a writer as well as an associate professor of creative writing in WWU's English department, where I teach fiction and nonfiction writing, magazine editing and publishing, and Pacific literature. Much of my published work has to do with Hawai`i and being hapa, or of mixed blood, as I am of kanaka maoli (Native Hawaiian), German and Norwegian descent. (Fun fact: I also write about wine!) My most recent research has focused on water law, indigenous rights, and 19th century educational institutions in Hawai`i. I have recently returned to Bellingham after an extended leave and would like to learn the best ways to serve alongside local indigenous peoples.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: The interurban trail for all those great running miles

Kristiana Kahakauwila

English WWU


I am the Resident Services Coordinator at Sterling Meadows and Sterling Senior, affordable housing complexes run by Mercy Housing Northwest. My position here consists of providing program, services, and personal support to 51 farm working families and 21 seniors. We focus our programing in 5 key area: Community, Education, Health and Wellness, Financial Literacy and Housing Stability. I have loved working with my residents over the years and am passionate about making Whatcom County an inclusive community where first generation immigrants and their families can feel safe and pursue their dreams. I serve on the board of the Whatcom Family and Community Network and am part of the Whatcom Public Health Advisory Board. I love playing recreational soccer and exploring our beautiful county.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: Birch Bay State Park

Lindsey Karas

Sterling Meadows


This will be my first formal quarter teaching Anthropology at Whatcom Community College. My education has, for the most part, concentrated itself in the field of anthropology, but I am also active in our Bellingham community as a yoga instructor. Questioning why we do what we as humans is something I explore both as an anthropologist and a yogi.


A place I love in Whatcom County: I love standing among the gentle Douglas Fir and Red Cedar giants in the Chuckanuts.

Irena Lambrou

Anthropology WCC


Mary is the Founder and Director of York Community Farm. Launched in 2013, YCF is an organic, sustainable, urban farm whose mission is to grow winter storage crops and maintain an orchard for our York neighborhood; provide a resume-building internship for our community’s underserved populations (re-entry; homeless; veterans); and, serve as a model of sustainable urban agriculture for our city, other cities in our county, and beyond.


A place I love in the Salish Sea region: Deception Pass always thrills and overwhelms me: the power; the ruggedness; that crazy WPA bridge and what it must have taken to build it.

Mary Loquvam

York Community Farm


For the past 15 years, my professional home has been as a faculty member in the Secondary Education department of the Woodring College of Education. With degrees in English and Secondary Literacy Methods, my research has recently been expanding to include digital literacy as arguably the literacy of the 21st century. My hobbies as a photographer and filmmaker have informed my research, and all of my work is centered around helping students (both K-12 and WWU) to use media to find their voice and, ultimately, tell their stories.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: Any trail that departs from the parking lot at Artist's Point

Lauren McClanahan

Secondary Education WWU


I’m a program coordinator at Western’s Center for Service-Learning with the primary role of promoting partnerships between community organizations and Western’s campus. My work includes assisting service-learning courses across disciplines, supporting first-year student programs and consulting with community organizations. I took an indirect path to higher ed by previously managing local nonprofits, working in public schools (K-12) and dabbling in naturalist/habitat restoration work. One of my passions is community inclusion of people with developmental disabilities which led to my current volunteer position on the board of directors for Max Higbee Community Recreation Center. I’m continuously inspired by the dedicated community leaders I meet; they’ve influenced me throughout my various roles to always work toward positive change in the community.

A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: I love walking to the mouth of the Nooksack River at low tide.

April McMurry

Center for Service-Learning WWU


I am an adjunct instructor in Early Childhood Education at Whatcom Community College. Additionally, I run a parent coaching practice: Bellingham Parent Coach. The majority of the courses I teach focus on helping the student become a professional early childhood educator and all that that entails. I am interested in elevating the status of people who work with young children.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: Thursday night summer concert series at Elizabeth Park with my family

Alexis Meyers

Early Childhood Education WCC


I am an Assistant Professor of Voice/Acting in the Department of Theatre and Dance since 2015. As a specialist in Voice & Speech for Actors, I have a passion for helping theater artists develop their voices as a powerful tool for individual expression, and inspiring these artists to explore the way they can use voice and language to inspire others. I have a lifelong love of theater, and am passionate about the way theater creates a collaboration between artist and community. As a teacher, director, producer, or actor, I am always looking for ways the theater can unite artist and community in the creative struggle to make a meaningful contribution to our cultural landscape.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: Exploring in the Chuckanuts, spring, summer, winter, & fall!

Evan Mueller

Theater and Dance WWU


I have just completed my third year teaching academic English as a Second Language at Whatcom Community College. While completing my post-graduate work in WWU’s Adult and Higher Education post-graduate program, I discovered my passion for transformation experiential learning and educational equity. I added this to a lifelong commitment to social justice, which informs my work daily with my WCC students from all over the world.  I also have been working at WSU Whatcom County Extension for several years in the Strengthening Families Program, which is a community education program for parents to attend with their youth ages 10-14. Last year, I became the county coordinator for this program, which runs in nearly every school district in the county and serves both English and Spanish speaking families. I feel these two positions are complementary and help me to bridge community education issues with global education.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: Frank’s Beach on Lummi Island with beautiful views of water, Orcas Island, sunsets and many, many amazing memories!

Jamie Olson

English as a Second Language, WCC


I am an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry at Western Washington University. My research is focused primarily on synthesizing biologically and environmentally compelling natural products. More recently this work has also led my group to become involved in certain biofuel-related research. I teach organic chemistry as well as several advanced electives (Natural Products Chemistry, Organic Reactions, and Biofuels) through the chemistry department and Institute for Energy Studies at WWU. One of my goals is to develop new ways to effectively communicate science with broader society.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: Galbraith Mountain

Greg O'Neil

Chemistry WWU



As the Executive Director of the Whatcom County Library System, I connect information, ideas and community, providing library services via ten rural libraries, a bookmobile, and our website I am passionate about building and supporting a reading culture that encourages literacy and lifelong learning. Our goal is to make sure every household in Whatcom County has at least one library card, and uses it! I am a member of two local book clubs, and I write monthly book reviews for Cascadia Weekly and Library Journal. I am currently the treasurer for my son’s Rangers soccer team.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: The Hot Picks display at any Whatcom County Library System library, where I can always find an interesting title to check out.

Christine Perkins

Whatcom County Library System


I am a high school social studies and visual arts teacher. My main interest is guiding young people on the path to engaged citizenship and creative problems solvers. I teach history, government and international studies and, for the past four years, have offered WCC credit for political science courses. I am building a service learning program to increase our participation in our community and to apply the lessons of the classroom to the real world in a sustainable way. I also serve on a statewide social studies cadre for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: The place I love most in the Salish Sea is anywhere on Orcas Island: on the beach, at Mountain Lake, atop Mt. Constitution, or off the coast in a boat!

Christopher Perkins

Social Studies and Visual Arts

Windward High School


As a recent transplant from the Midwest, I am quickly becoming acclimated to the wonderful west coast lifestyle. I joined the special education faculty at Western as an assistant professor upon completion my PhD at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2015. Go Badgers! Prior to academia, I was a special educator in a residential treatment center serving adolescents with emotional disturbance and correctional orders. My research is, in part, framed by my experiences as a practitioner: I focus on social-emotional cognition, civic participation of young adults with disabilities, and the efficacy of alternative schooling programs (e.g., behavior reassignment). Professionally, I am interested (and invested!) in urban education, culturally relevant pedagogy, and meaningful participation of individuals with disabilities in all facets of society. I am a board member of Communities in Schools of Whatcom County and the Whatcom County Developmental Disability Advisory.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: As an avid mountain biker, I sure hit the jackpot by moving here. When I’m not in my office, you can find me pedaling up and down Mount Galbraith.

Aaron Perzigian

Special Education and Education Leadership WWU


I am endlessly passionate about any and all issues related to public health - especially those that fall under the theme of reproductive health. I am an Assistant Professor at Fairhaven College where I try to infuse my classes with that passion as often as possible. Most of my research projects fall under the theme of reproductive health in sub-Saharan Africa. More recently, I have been engaging with the local community in reproductive health research.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: Everywhere! Too many to choose from. I absolutely love the Chuckanut trail, Lake Padden, Larrabee State Park, Clayton Beach...shall I continue?

Hilary Schwandt

Fairhaven WWU


I am a percussionist specializing in contemporary and classical music, and have served as the Discipline Lead for Music at Whatcom Community College since 2013. I came to Bellingham from Brooklyn, NY where I was faculty at City University of New York. I teach music theory, contemporary ensemble, American music and other music humanities courses. In my teaching I encourage broad participation in creative music making, pushing students to think beyond established social and musical categories. I challenge my students to examine how their art intersects with and contributes to the communities around them. Professionally I perform with the Whatcom Symphony, Skagit Opera, and serve as vice president of the Bellingham Chamber Music Society.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: My backyard

Melanie Sehman

Visual and Performing Arts WCC


I am the co-author of the new Arts Enterprise and Cultural Innovation minor in Western’s College of Fine and Performing Arts. The minor is designed to prepare students for an entry into a career of their own design as creative professionals; based on their knowledge of self (Person), knowledge of their practiced discipline (Practice) and knowledge of the public spaces in which they will operate (Public). In crafting and teaching these courses I draw from my experience as a performing artist and film producer. My creative professional work has been focused on giving broadcast to marginalized voices through projects that are engaging, authentic and delivered at their maximum.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: Westside Preserve on San Juan Island

Lucas Senger

Arts Enterprise and Cultural Innovation, Music WWU


I am WCC's Service-Learning Coordinator working to connect WCC students and faculty with over 30 community partners in Whatcom County.I also coordinate the WCC Parenting Education program. Our parenting program works closely with Bellingham Public Schools to provide early childhood education and family support/education.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: The Sehome Arboretum. I offers shade in the summer and shelter from the wind and rain in the winter. It’s our go-to spot for a walk or run.

Kristine Smith

Parenting, Human Development, and Service-Learning Coordinator WCC


I am a professor at WWU and am an environmental toxicologist and chemist. Most of my research interests are related to aquatic systems, although I have worked on monitoring air pollution from trains. My interests in working beyond the classroom are extensive. I've been working with the Washington State Department of Ecology and regional professional and community members to teach a series of classes on contaminated site cleanup in WA State. I am also involved in a project designed to support K-12 public school teachers as they develop curriculum that is both scientifically valid and culturally significant to tribal communities. I look forward to finding more ways to connect beyond the University.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: Fragrance Lake lookout with a view of the water, the islands, and the mountains...

Ruth Sofield

Environmental Sciences WWU


Throughout my career, I have worked in the public sector, both in nonprofits and at all levels of government. My career has had plenty of variety, including work as the grants coordinator for a conservation foundation in Wisconsin, as an analyst for the United States Government Accountability Office in Washington, D. C. and as a policy analyst for the King County Executive Office. Over the years, my interests and passions have shifted from the pursuit of professional goals to a determination to advance movements to end homelessness and address issues of classism and racism. I am a former board member of the Real Change Homeless Empowerment Project (Seattle). Currently, I serve as the vice-president of the Board of Directors for the YWCA of Bellingham. I hope to launch an initiative that brings Real Change News vendor opportunities to Bellingham and to make the Bellingham initiative a case study and a model for other non-metropolitan communities in this region.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: The Sehome Hill trails behind Miller Hall hold a special place in my heart.

Becky Spithill

Real Change Magazine


I am a Speech-Language Pathologist and the Director of the Speech-Language Clinic in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. I earned my master’s degree from the University of Kansas in 1993. I have been a clinician and worked in medical settings for 20 years before becoming employed full time at Western in 2014. My clinical expertise includes working with children and adults with acquired communication, cognition and swallowing disorders. I am thankful for a profession that allows flexibility to work in a variety of settings and I enjoy teaching students to become excellent clinicians. As a clinic director, my goal is to expand partnerships in the community to train graduate students in CSD.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: Arroyo Park

Lesley Stephens

Speech and Language Clinic WWU


I have been a math teacher at Northwest Indian College since 2009. I am a Board member of the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center, and a student of Capoeira Angola.


A place I love in the Salish Sea Region: I have gone hiking up to the Skyline Divide by Mount Baker a couple of times, and the beauty is simply breathtaking.

Matteo Tamburini

Mathematics NWIC


Currently I am an Assistant Professor of Print and Digital Media in the Department of Art at WWU. In this role I teach all printmaking methods and techniques, introductory drawing classes, and supervise BFA students. I also act as the faculty advisor for the student run B gallery that hosts weekly exhibitions at WWU. Before arriving at Western I worked at numerous Universities, Galleries, and Artist Run Centres, to promote/teach art to a wide variety of individuals. I continue to be interested in facilitating creative opportunities and creating exposure for the students, school, and the local community. My current artistic research focuses on examining mass media, material culture and consumerism.

A place I love in the Salish Sea: Anywhere near the water

Lisa Turner



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